Bus driver alleges extortion by LASTMA officials
A Lagos commercial bus driver, Ogaloke Gbenga, has accused officials of Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) of maltreating him for his refusal to accede to their request over alleged traffic offence.
The driver was left gasping for breath last Saturday after an encounter with LASTMA officials. But for the intervention of some good spirited drivers who rushed him to the hospital, Gbenga said he would have died.
The Guardian learnt that the driver was en route Ikeja from CMS when LASTMA officials flagged him down at Onipanu, for allegedly not plying his designated route.
Narrating his ordeal, Gbenga said: “I was flagged down at Onipanu and I was told that the route inscription on my bus showing (Ikeja-CMS) was not clear because it was faded.
“I was asked to get down and gave my bus key to an officer. I begged them to let me go, but one of them insisted that I must pay him N40, 000. I begged him to accept N5, 000, but he declined. After some minutes, I offered him the whole money with me, which was N10, 000, and then he asked me to alight from the vehicle. I told him that I couldn’t jump because I suffered an auto crash but he insisted I come down.
“I obeyed him and decided to cross the road, but a dispatch rider hit me. The officials saw what happened and left the scene with my bus.
“I was left on the road before fellow drivers came to my rescue and rushed me to an emergency ward, where I was billed N150, 000 for treatment.”
The vehicle was finally released after The Guardian reached out to the Director, Public Affairs Unit of LASTMA, Adebayo Taofik, but the officials were not identified and nothing was said about Gbenga’s treatment.
The driver was, however, asked to pay for the gate fees before he took the bus. Speaking on the issue, Taofik said: “It’s an offence for a driver to ply a route not inscribed on his vehicle. We do that in case a driver commits a crime. So, if he was arrested for plying a different route, then the officials did the right thing. The officials are yet to brief me on the offence committed, however, I agree that enforcement should be done with a human face. It was wrong for the vehicle to be driven away after the incident.”
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